Fragrance in the Garden
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Banana Shrub

Banana Shrub

Gardens and landscapes designed with interesting combinations of plants and trees with beautiful flowers, textures, and shapes are immediately appreciated because of their visual beauty.  When fragrant plants are included in the garden design they add an extra bonus because they can be enjoyed even when they are not seen.

Fragrant plants have a subtle way of getting one’s attention.  After catching a waft of a plant’s aroma, people frequently will go out of their way to examine and smell it.   One favorite plant for fragrance is the brunfelsia ‘lady of the night’.  We have several of them planted in our landscape and the fragrance they provide, particularly in the evening, is amazing.  Neighbors walking down the sidewalk frequently stop and ask us about the fragrance in our yard.

Placing a fragrant plant near a lanai or patio adds to the pleasure of entertaining and/or relaxing there.  People also like to plant them near walkways to the front door for their own and their visitors’ enjoyment.

We are fortunate to have many fragrant plants that grow very well in our area.  Some favorite flowering plants for fragrance are:  jasmine, sweet acacia, banana shrub, tea olive, fiddlewood, sweet almond, angel’s trumpet, Carolina Jessamine, gardenia, lady of the night, citrus, Simpson’s stopper, plumeria and michelia alba (Joy perfume tree). There are also plants that have fragrant leaves such as: bay rum, allspice, Florida anise, and wax myrtle.

Lady of the Night is a favorite for fragrance.

Lady of the Night

Joy Perfume Tree Flower

Michelia 'alba' Joy Perfume Flower

Growing Roses in Southwest Florida
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Peach 'Drift' Rose (2)

Peach Drift Rose

Roses have long been admired for their fragrance and symbolic, beautiful flowers.  In Florida these lovely plants will bloom year-round, making them a wonderful addition to any garden.  The key to growing roses successfully in Florida is to select a rose variety that has demonstrated superior pest tolerance and landscape performance in Florida gardens.

The ‘Knock-Out’ series of roses and the ‘Drift Rose’ series are easy to grow and disease resistant.  These low maintenance roses are shrub like and produce an open, informal bloom in repeat cycles of about every five weeks throughout the year.  A personal favorite is the drift rose, especially the peach and coral colors.

Hybrid tea, grandiflora, floribunda and polyantha are rose varieties that produce an assortment of lovely, florist quality blooms.  Certain cultivars of these roses will perform very well in Florida when they have been grafted during nursery production onto a hardy, proven rootstock such as the favored Fortuniana rootstock.  The Fortuniana rootstock’s nematode resistant, extensive root system has successfully adapted to our soil and is a superior rootstock for providing the water and nutrients necessary for the success and long term survival of these hybrid roses.

Successful rose plants begin by selecting the right cultivar.  Secondly, the rose must be planted in a location which will provide it with at least six hours of daily sunlight.  It should be planted with enriched, high quality soil and the root ball should be one to two inches above grade.  Roses require regular watering and soil with good drainage.  They will perform best with monthly fertilization, preferably with a controlled release fertilizer containing micro-elements and formulated for roses.

Most importantly, when gardening with these lovely plants, “take time to smell the roses”.

Hummingbirds in the Garden
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Red Shrimp Plant

Red Shrimp Plant

At the end of the day, my bliss is sitting on the patio in my garden and watching the butterflies and hummingbirds flit from flower to flower.  The hummingbirds are so fast and tiny that, try as I may, I can't catch them in a decent photo.  Of course when I am weeding the garden and my hands are full of weeds instead of a camera, suddenly a hummingbird will hover three feet from my face.  And then just as quickly, with a noisy buzzing of its wings, it is gone.

The hummingbirds fly back and forth between my neighbor's yard and my yard.  My neighbor and I have a friendly competition as to whose yard they prefer.  We both agree that the hummingbird's favorite flower is the red shrimp.

While recently helping a customer select butterfly plants at the nursery, I told them that the red shrimp will attract butterflies and hummingbirds.  I mentioned that I consider the red shrimp plant a "hummingbird magnet".  Right on cue, a hummingbird flew over to the red shrimp as we were standing next to it.  Needless to say, the customer left with a red shrimp plant.

Hostas Growing in South Florida?
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Having spent the last month in Minnesota, I am obsessed with taking pictures of beautiful landscapes in the area.  There are dozens of varieties of Hostas on display in nearly every beautiful yard.

 

Hostas are one of the plants I thought we couldn't grow in Florida.  However, several years ago the "Sun Hosta" was introduced for gardens in South Florida and I can attest to the fact that we do indeed have a hosta for our area.

 

The sun hosta can take full sun, however, I think it does prefer some filtered sun or half day sun.  It has variegated strappy leaves and it blooms with tall white flowers during the summer.  If the winters are cold it may go dormant but it will start growing again in the spring.

 

Sun Hosta

The beautiful sun hosta grows well in South Florida.

 

Hostas in a Minnesota Garden

This front yard in Minnesota has a stunning display of hostas and other flowers.

Crape Myrtles Brighten Landscapes
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At the beginning of August Mayer and I drove to Minnesota.  Being landscape and gardening enthusiasts, we love observing the change in the flora as we drive from planting zone 10 to planting zone 4.  No one can drive through the south during August and not be in awe of the crape myrtles' amazing display of color.

 

Few summer blooming plants can compete with the colorful and lush crape myrtles that beautify landscapes across Florida and the southern states.  Crape myrtles come in a variety of sizes and are grown as shrub like multi-stem trees or single trunk standards.   Depending on the cultivar, the crape myrtles can start blooming in May and continue into the fall.

 

The crape myrtles brighten the summer landscape with beautiful clusters of flowers that can extend for 6 to 18 inches.  The flowers come in a variety of colors including shades of white, lavender, pink, red and purple, with interesting names such as Red Rocket, Natchez, Tuscarora and Muskogee.

 

These plants thrive in heat and humidity and they are also drought tolerant.  Crape myrtles provide autumn color and are deciduous in the winter.  During the winter we enjoy the sculptural quality of the tree shape and the interesting appearance of the tree's exfoliating bark which reveals mottled colors in shades of cream, reddish brown, tan, and silver.

Multi-trunk Crape Myrtle

Crape Myrtle

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